Dallas City Performance Hall
Scenic Design: Beowulf Boritt
Costume Design: Andrea Lauer
Lighting Design: Jason Lyons
Sound Design: Jill BC Du Boff
Music Director: David Caldwell
Choreographer: Wendy Seyb
Joe Kinosian – Suspects
Ian Lowe - Marcus
Photos by Jim Cox
Reviewed Performance 9/24/2015
Reviewed by Elaine Plybon, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
When I stood up with the rest of the audience to deliver a standing ovation to the two dynamic performers that make up the cast of Murder for Two, I looked at my partner and said “What just happened?”
My comments were a compliment to the incredibly eclectic, high energy brilliance that is Murder for Two. Nominated for several awards and chosen as a New York Times Critics Pick, the production was conceived of and written by Joe Kinosian (who is half of the cast) and Kellen Blair. Reminiscent of a vaudevillian act, the action includes every facet of theatre imaginable. It has singing, dancing, intrigue, humor, artistry, audience participation and even a little improv.
The action takes place in the mansion of an author who has just been shot. The author’s books each reveal the deepest secrets of one of the suspects, as well as that of the detective, Marcus. As Marcus interviews each of the suspects, clues are revealed and a whodunit is underway. Interwoven through the performance are dueling piano duets, musical vignettes, and brief choreographed interactions which add dimension to the entertainment. The resulting mix of storytelling and song is humorous and very enjoyable.
The set, nicely designed by Beowulf Boritt, consists of an arched façade outlined in stage lights, flanked by two, eight-panel wood doors. Central on the proscenium stage is a piano, surrounded by various items of furniture, trunks and a single stage light as one might expect to find stowed away backstage. The Dallas City Performance Hall, which opened in 2012, is also nicely designed with concrete and wood accents on the walls and a modern feel to its layout and seating. The clean, modern design of the venue paired nicely with the minimalist set.
Lighting design by Jason Lyons often included a single spotlight center stage, but included peripheral lights in reds and purples, depending on the mood at the time. Lighting also facilitated a cameo Hitchcock appearance. There was never a time the lighting was not effective in supporting the action.
The acting duo were dressed in one costume each for much of the performance, with the use of eyeglasses and a baseball cap to facilitate transitions from character to character. Costume design by Andrea Lauer included a pair of gray slacks and gray vest for the suspects and a light brown suit for the detective.
As a pair, the acting team was dynamic and functional. Joe Kinosian, who portrayed all of the suspects, and Ian Lowe in the role of the detective, Marcus, were both extremely effective in their portrayals.
Lowe’s frequent furrowed brows and outstretched arms exuded the exasperation the character of Marcus is riddled with throughout the action. His prompt response to Kinosian’s intermittent improv – such as when the remaining three members of a 12-member boy’s choir were suddenly added to the list of suspects – was impressive. Once or twice, Lowe had to keep from laughing, but his quick comebacks and participation in the unknown was fun to watch.
Kinosian moved around the stage as if possessed by the whimsy of the multiple characters he portrayed. Transitioning from one character to another was not just done with props or a change of voice or accent, but somehow he managed to change the very appearance of his face to reflect the gender, age, and demeanor of the character at hand. Whether portraying a beautiful, young ballerina or an old psychiatrist, Kinosian dove into each role with perfection. Shifting between roles, sometimes mid-sentence, was done unbelievably well. This performance showcased Kinosian’s range of ability and dedication to his craft.
The evening flew by in 90 minutes with no intermission. For that period of time, I, along with the audience were removed from the concerns of daily life and given a beautiful gift of laughter and appreciation for the talent on display. There were students from nearby Booker T. Washington Center for the Performing Arts in that audience and I believe the lesson they were given during that performance was superlative.
My only hope is that this tour will find an opportunity to return to the Metroplex. In the meantime, get your tickets now for one of the remaining performances.
MURDER FOR TWO
AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Off Broadway on Flora Series
at the Dallas City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora Street, Dallas, Texas
**ONE WEEKEND ONLY** Runs through September 26th. Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm, matinee Saturdays at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $35-49 For information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.attpac.org/on-sale/2015/murder-for-two/ or call the box office at 214.880.0202.